UK house prices: Help to buy has boosted the number of houses built and first-time buyers - but it's not inflating prices, claims government report

 
Catherine Neilan
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Conservative Help to Buy Mortgage Scheme Is Brought Forward
Look at all those houses being built, thanks to help to buy (Source: Getty)

Suffering from misgivings about whether help to buy is really the panacea the government claims it is? A new report published this morning claims it has boosted both house building and first-time buying - but it has not artificially boosted prices.

And the report has been published by... er... the government.

The equity loan scheme, which was introduced in 2013, has been instrumental in helping people get a foot on the ladder, the Department for Communities and Local Government claimed this morning: 82 per cent of buyers using the scheme would not have been able to do so without the financial assistance.

The report, commissioned by DLCG, also found that 43 per cent of new homes built under the scheme since it launched would not have existed without it.

Read more: Why help to buy won't help housebuilding in the UK

And in response to critics - of which there are many - who claim the scheme artificially raises prices, the report said there was "little evidence of a serious and destabilising impact on house prices".

It added: "There has also been extensive and divergent media discussion around the issue of whether [the] help to buy equity loan has boosted house prices . As we argue it almost certainly helped to stabilise prices. However the evidence that it led to a house price boom is weak as a simple comparison between the number of help to buy equity loans and total transactions and the total number of mortgage loans would indicate."

Read more: Markets are in turmoil - but housing could be the real issue

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: "Anyone who works hard and aspires to own their own home should have the opportunity to do so and this report shows how the government’s help to buy scheme continues to turn those dreams into a reality.

"We’ve got the country building again and seen the number of new homes increase by 25% in the last year alone with thousands of people across the country helped by the scheme."

Conveniently, the report has been published just a fortnight after the government extended its scheme to create a London-specific version, making loans of up to 40 per cent available for first and second-time buyers on properties worth up to £600,000.

Experts have piled heavy criticism on the move, with some saying it is unlikely to benefit the very people it is intended to help, while others warn it is creating "an artificial prop to the market".

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